A proper Rubylux blog……

•July 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Earlier this year, I did an over excited blog post on a group that I had just heard on a television show.  The band was Rubylux and I think it is high time I give them the proper blog that they deserve.  In order to refresh your memory, the television show was the US version of Being Human and the song they played was called “The Boy Could Fly.”

After screaming my excitement in that blog, I DID go and look up more on Rubylux and let me tell you….I was sunk.  Their album, Fake Control, was available on iTunes so I downloaded immediately.  I also stayed up half the night lost in a YouTube loop, watching all the videos I could feast my ears on.  Color me impressed.  I am a huge believer in bands that can not only put out a good album, but have the actual talent to sound just as good, if not better just standing on the street and playing.  As it turns out, this is exactly how Rubylux got their start and it shows.  They started busking in their hometown of Brighton a few years ago.  Smart move as it got them far more attention than playing little clubs would have.  Not only that, but I’m convinced that artists that actually take the time to develop, grow, and play together BEFORE making an album actually put out far better music.  It’s not everyone that can just pull up on a street corner, set up their stuff, and sound this damn good.  That’s called TALENT, genuine hard work, and love for what you do, people.  Exhibit A:

Eventually, they earned enough to buy better equipment and then enough to be able to produce a bona fide album.  And what an album it is.  One of the things I love most about it is that it is universal.  They are not stuck to one style or sound.  There are romantic songs, rock songs, and more alternative or indie sounding songs.  The lyrics are intelligent and well written, covering a broad range of themes and ideas.  My very favorite track on the album is called Inside.  Not only is it a very beautiful melody, but the lyrics are epic.  “Oh, maybe I don’t understand why we educate this land only to forget why we’re here…Forgetting the world that’s inside, where you’ll find love.  Divine is in each of us.”

As a sidenote, that video was taken by someone who has become a dear friend.  We met because of Rubylux and it just makes you realize the power of music to bring people together, especially now with the internet.  Soph….you’re awesome and I’m so glad to have met you.  Also, how cool is it that they have not stopped doing street gigs just because they put out an album!  LOVE!  I’ve talked a little bit with the guys back and forth on twitter, and they are genuinely nice and down to earth guys.  I see them doing these little street gigs far into the future.  Someday, I hope to actually get to be around for one.  If not, a show somewhere in the US will have to do.  *coughhinthintifyoureadthisguyscough*

Another favorite is called “What You Need”.  Again…love the music, love the lyrics.  UNBELIEVABLE LIVE!  Nuf said?  Enjoy! 

I could honestly link you to video after video and each would be better than the next.  Hit YouTube, look up some of their street gigs, live performances, and acoustic sessions. You won’t be sorry.  It will be time well spent and your musical life will be richer for it. 

To check out more on Rubylux, you can visit their Official Site.  They are on Twitter and on Facebook.  For us Americans, the only album available on iTunes is their full length called Fake Control and the single for The Boy Could Fly.  Across the pond, I believe there are, or were,  EPs available and hopefully someday we will get those here.  Until then, go HERE to download Fake Control from iTunes.

The magic of Mika….

•July 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Get out your polka-dot hotpants and suspenders and put on your party hats.  It’s time for some Mika magic! 

If you have never heard the music of Mika, you are in for a treat.  Mika is pure FUN!  Mika is the kind of music that just makes you smile.  You can’t help it.  Do you remember when you were younger?  You’d lock yourself in your room, grab your hairbrush, and dance around in front of your mirror to your favorite tunes, jumping on the bed and forgetting, for a while, every care you had.  Don’t shake your head at me.  You know you did.  That is what Mika’s music is for me.  It’s like being that kid again, that person that can just throw cares to the wind and dance around my room like a maniac. 

Mika exploded with his first album and a song called “Grace Kelly”.  Of course, the first thing that caught me was the voice.  Mika’s voice is simply amazing.  Few guys can pull off a falsetto quite like he can.  Once I actually quit jumping around long enough to really listen to the lyrics, I found that here’s a guy who actually has something quite meaningful to say. He just says it differently than most and I love that about him.  I’m sure we’d all be able to sing this song about our selves at certain times in our lives when we are trying to be something we are not.

In a world of media attention given to being skinny rails and outlandishly beautiful people, an anthem rose up.  As Mika was watching TV one night, he saw a show on a place called The Butterfly Lounge.  This happens to be a real club in LA where “big women” are not turned away at the door, but rather revered and adored.  It inspired him to write the following song which turned into the battle cry for big girls everywhere.  And quite frankly, it’s nice to see some regular sized people being featured in a video rather than the normal “beauties” that are given so much adoration. 

Mika’s videos are as creative as his live shows.  He takes a colorful circus atmosphere and brings it to everything he does, even his mellower stuff.   I also have to give him props because not only can he sing, write songs, and play several instruments, but he is also the creative director and artist behind most of his stuff.  With help from his family, he brings his visions to life and they are always  interesting and out of the ordinary.  Case in point, this video for Happy Ending.

His last album, called The Boy Who Knew Too Much, is no less of a party than the first.  In fact, remember that dance around your room feeling I talked about?  Yeah…he put that to video.  This is the epitome of Mika, so get ready to dance around like a clown on purpose as you listen to We are Golden. 

If you have some time and are interested, Mika’s life story makes an interesting read.  Emigration, refugees, his father held in the middle east.  This guy has had some interesting turns.  I remain in awe of the talent and creativity that Mika possesses.  Do yourself a favor.  Grab that hairbrush, crank up the stereo, and dance like nobody’s watching.  I promise it will be the best time you’ve had in a while. 

Mika is currently about halfway through his third album and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.  You can find Mika on his Official Site, Twitter, and his music is available on iTunes.




The Catalyst

•July 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you haven’t seen The Catalyst yet, what are you waiting for?

As our mission statement says, “The Catalyst magazine is dedicated to exploring the art and culture that will be the catalyst for humanity’s inevitable triumph in this game of life.  This is a rapidly evolving world and the answers lie BEYOND the surface of mainstream culture.  The prophets and shamans who will lead us through are waiting in the underground…..The Catalyst.”

I had no idea a few months ago when I sent this little blog I had started in to the magazine that this is where I would end up.  It has been a whirlwind of a roller coaster ride and I am grateful for every second.  Our team is amazing and I am honored to be in the company of some truly great writers and thinkers.  It is up to each and every one of us to be the voice of change in this world.  We cannot leave it up to the leaders, or those we THINK have the power.  If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that each of us has a voice, but so few are willing to use it.  The time has come to change that.  We need to take back our voices and use them loudly.  WE can make the difference.  WE can precipitate the changes that need to happen.  If not you, then who?  If not now, then when?

Music, art, and culture are but a few of the ways that people can use that voice they have been given.  The Catalyst provides a way to help those voices be heard.  We are the voices.  We are the change. We are the visions of the future.

Included in the magazine are articles on some great musicians including Brandon Hilton, Ricky Rebel, MYNX, Alo and the Narcissist, Jillian Ann, Rough Duchess, and Dan Holguin along with the photography of Rowynn Michelle Dumont.  We also feature the artwork of Carlos Nunez and Cassidy Haley.  We have great contributing writers from different walks of life providing insightful and intelligently written articles.  As part of our goal of spreading the voice to as many people as possible, our special gift was to put together a FREE album with a song from each of our featured artists.  What could be better? 

So what are you waiting for?  Check out The Catalyst and see what we have to offer.  Just click the image below to be taken to our website.  There you will find our latest issue as well as blogs and other surprises along the way.  I’d also love to hear what you think of the magazine, so leave a comment and let us know what you think of The Catalyst! 

80’s Sampler Platter (the underground)

•June 26, 2011 • 2 Comments

I loved the music of the 80’s.  Still do.  I loved the new wave, the British invasions, the hair metal, and everything in between.  What I loved most though, was the alternative music that came up from the 80’s underground.  Sure, we had our Duran Duran and our Def Leppard, but what intrigued me the most was the stuff that WASN’T being heard all over the radio, at least not here in the United States. 

One such band was Bauhaus.  Fronted by Peter Murphy, whom I’ve blogged about before, this band really never gained fame in the US.  Band members went on to do other things which did become more popular and since their actual split, they’ve gained and retained a true cult following as one of the greatest bands to come out of the underground at that time.  Many people now know the song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” but my personal favorite is this one. 

Another band that I love is Siouxsie and the Banshees.  Their lyrics were often dark and creepy and I loved that about them.  Not to mention, their albums were whole, not a bunch of singles thrown onto vinyl to fill space.  When listening to them, you had to listen to the whole thing to get the entire picture.  They did receive a modicum of US success in the early 90’s, but in my opinion, their earlier work was much better.

OK, granted, The Smiths and more-so their front man Morrisey did gain quite a following…eventually.  Morrisey was, is, and always shall remain one of the greatest singers out there in my book.  He is brilliant.  Period.  Again, the US was slow on the uptake with this one and I have to wonder if it was the music, or the unacceptance of who he was.  Is it the chicken or the egg?  What a fickle music industry we have.  In any case, I’m certainly glad that someone had the sense to introduce me to their music.

Forget Green Day.  If it’s 80’s punk you want, Descendants are it.  They never achieved real fame, but in my mind, they remain one of the early front-runners of what was to come in the punk scene.  They had a little pop touch with their music that made it listenable while still keeping their punk spirit. 

There you have it.  Just a few of the “lesser heard” bands of the 80’s.  They may not have achieved the superstar status of Wham! and Human League, but I loved them.  Long live the underground.

It’s time to Panik!

•June 25, 2011 • 2 Comments

No, I did not spell that wrong.  Panik, formerly known as Nevada Tan, is one of my all-time favorite German bands.  Sadly, they are no longer together if you remember from one of my previous posts on one of its members, Chris Linke.  If you missed that one, you can find it HERE.

Panik is, in a word, incredible.  While many people compare them to Linkin Park, I really hear little resemblance other than the fact that they both have a great fusion of rock and rap.  It’s an interesting mixture for sure and Panik does it extremely well.  Panik also manages to throw in some brilliant orchestration that only adds to the drama of their music.  Every little piece is amazingly well thought out. I’m going to have serious trouble here just picking a few songs to share as I love them all.  Let me start with this one. It’s called “Revolution” and shows the orchestral/rock/rap mix well.  Turn it up!

If it’s something a bit more calm and melodic that you’re after, Panik has that too.  I chose a video that did translation for this one because, hey, not everyone speaks German and the lyrics are just beautiful. 

Another one of my faves to just crank and scream along with is called “Noch Nicht Tot”.  This translates to “Not Dead Yet” and came at a time when the group was having a lot of, let’s just say record company issues.  The beginning to this song kicks ass.

True to my green heart, they also did a song against problems in the environment called “Kinder (es ist nicht krank)” (Children (Isn’t it sick?)).  In the song, the chorus asks the question “Our children will ask, what have you done?  What are you thinking about if not us?”  Powerful words, don’t you think?  This song also has some gorgeous orchestration and tackles some very important issues.  Again, I chose a vid with translations.  Trust me, it’s worth the watch. 

If you’d like more of Panik’s music, you unfortunately have to order from across the pond, but it’s so worth it.  They really did have great music.  The individual members are still around here and there.  Linke is in LA playing with his own band. David Bonk just put out a CD of his piano music (he was voted Germany’s best musician 2 years running..gorgeous piano) and you can get that on iTunes.  Panik still lives on with its two founding members, David Bonk and Timo Sonnenschein, but it remains to be seen what will become of that.  The other members have gone on to create drum schools, appear in films, and work with other bands. 




Under the Elephant

•June 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

As I sit here on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I can think of no better soundtrack to a day like this than the new album, Eleventh Hour, by the band Under The Elephant.  For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know my history with singer Ben Jelen.  Well, Ben got together with his old label mate, Josh McMillan (from the Deuce Project), and with a few other friends they created Under The Elephant. 

First of all, I love the fact that they took their time to develop themselves.  It shows.  The music is solid, fun, and creative.  Josh’s lead vocals are entirely complimented by the harmonies of Ben, Tina, and Lisa as they banter back and forth.  It’s not something you often hear outside of a choir, but it’s done in such a way that it gives the music a great feel.  Stan and Steve round out the lineup on bass and drums and keep the groove going. It’s pop, it’s rock, it’s gospel, it’s music with heart and that makes all the difference.

One of my favorite songs is called Warm and Tender.  I just love the way it feels.  It’s also interesting how they twist things musically partway through it.  You just get comfortable and then they blow your mind!  Love it!

The first Under the Elephant song I heard was The Beautiful Shuffle.  There is just something about the groove of this song.  First you sort of find your foot tapping.  It travels up to your neck and the head begins to bob.  Pretty soon you’re snapping or clapping along to the beat, and before you  know it, you have wiggles that won’t stop.  I find myself getting odd looks from passers-by when I have this going in my vehicle. hehe

Lastly, I give you my two favorites.  One is called Sail On and is just….beautiful.  I’m not sure what’s more gorgeous, the piano,the guitar, or the voices in that one. The other is called The Mission and it’s another that I just have to crank and sing along at the top of my lungs with the windows down every time it comes on. 

If you’d like to check out Under the Elephant, you can find them on their Official Site, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  Their debut album is available for download on Bandcamp.  Great album for summer! Grab it and enjoy!

The moonchild….

•May 29, 2011 • 2 Comments

A couple of years ago, I came across one of the most interesting female voices to strike my ear in quite some time.  Her name is Kerli and as if her voice and her look weren’t enough to make her interesting, she also hails from Estonia.  (Don’t worry. I had to google where that is too.)  It isn’t often that an unmistakable female voice comes along.  In my opinion, they all kind of blend after a while, so I enjoy it when I hear one that stands out among the crowd.  Then I saw her video for the song Love Is Dead and I was hooked.  Not only is it creative, but is so simply powerful that you can’t help but sit up and pay attention.

Another favorite song of mine off of that particular album is called Bulletproof.  I’ll stay with you, but remember, be careful what you do cuz I’m not bulletproof.”

Imagine my glee and the fangirl scream that was heard when it was announced that Kerli was doing a collab with Tokio Hotel!!!  It was for the Almost Alice soundtrack…a mediocre movie, but what an incredible song!  It was called Strange, and I have to say, if ever a song was made that fit the very heart of me, this was it.  “All I feel is strange…strange in your perfect world.”

Her newest single is called Army of Love and is more dance oriented than her early work.  I’m curious to see what the album will turn out like.  I’d also love to have hair like this, just for a little while.  hehe

You can find Kerli on her Official Site, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace.  Her music is also available on iTunes (although their store is being twitchy today, so I can’t get to the link. My apologies, but she is there. lol)

What if?

•May 24, 2011 • 4 Comments

I’ve had a lot of conversations and thoughts recently about “labels”.  We all know them.  There’s the soccer mom, the gay boy, the goth, the prep, the good girl/boy, the bad girl/boy, the nerd, the athlete….the list goes on and on, everyone put into their convenient little corner.  It’s handy, isn’t it?  We can see someone, the way they are dressed or the way they cut their hair, and instantly put them into a category in our minds as we decide how to deal with them.

The problem is that we are not “labels”.  We are people.  Am I a soccer mom?  I guess…considering I have 2 kids, drive the requisite mini-van, and yes, have a child that plays soccer.  The thing is, I am so much more.  I’m a wife, a friend, a writer, a painter, a student, an assistant, and a dreamer.  I still carry with me longings that I had when I was in my teens.  I have gained new ones and dismissed others along the way.  Labels bother me in that they dismiss everything that people are, the fact that we (hopefully) grow and change.  You do others a disservice when you dismiss them as “just” a *insert label here*, for that is not all that they are, and you are missing some really great parts of them. 

As I was thinking about all this, a song has kept running through my mind.  It’s by one of my favorite singers, Emilie Autumn.  I have read a lot of people’s ideas about what this song is truly about.  For me, it is about the fact that no matter how well you may know someone, you really can’t know anyone completely.  The person who is your husband, wife, best friend, or co-worker may be surprised by a reaction you have, or the way you feel about an issue.  Quite frankly, I think many of us may surprise ourselves from time to time, and THAT is the heart of this song in my opinion.  Don’t put me in your box.  Don’t think you know me, because I don’t always know myself, and that’s what it is to be human. 

A little bit of Culcha….

•May 14, 2011 • 1 Comment

Last night was house cleaning night.  In usual fashion, I put in the ear buds and went to work.  Music is a must in general, but I was tired and mentally shot and seriously needed something to keep me going and get me through.  I scrolled through my playlists, searching for something I was in the mood for, something upbeat and fun, something that would lift the exhaustion from my shoulders and get me moving. 

Enter…..Culcha Candela.  I found this band maybe a year ago or more on the culture mix site that I have blogged about before.  Formed in Berlin, Culcha Candela is primarily based in Germany, BUT do not make the mistake of pigeon-holing them into simply being a German band.  Roughly translated, Culcha Candela means “bright culture” and consists of members from 4 different continents and even more countries (Germany, Uganda, Korea, and Columbia to name a few). Needless to say, this creates an interesting mix.  They’re lyrics are a mixture of German, English, Spanish, and Patois and they bring beats and hooks from each culture, mashing them up into an irresistible combination that will get your hips moving…guaranteed. 

One of my favorite songs by them is called “Hamma” which is basically slang for “coolest thing since sliced bread.”  The language is German, but sung in Reggae tones, and put to a latin beat.  Epic!  Plus, I just love the little dance they do to it.

If it’s straight up dance music you’re looking for, Culcha Candela has that as well.  One of their big hits is called “Monsta” and you’ll wish you had a dance floor to hop on when you hear it.  Personally, I use my kitchen.  It’s large and provides the room necessary for me to really get down to this song.

Looking for something a little more latin to shake your booty too?  Look no further.  Culcha is here for that too.  “I Like It” is a familiar song to most, but you’ve never heard it like this before. 

Another thing I love about them is that they are active in helping out charities around the globe and sing out on cultural issues as well. “Schoene Neue Welt” is a great one as well as this one called “African Children” (sung in english for everyone to understand…but the Hebrew subtitles might come in handy for someone as well. lol).

You can find Culcha Candela on their official site.  They are also on MySpace, Facebook, and YES…US iTunes.


•May 8, 2011 • 2 Comments

Silly me….I meant to blog this last week and totally spaced it!  Better late than never!  This is brilliance and MUST be blogged here.

On April 25th, a group of buddies I generally love to begin with, got together at Berklee College.  Their goal:  to create 8 new songs in 8 hours.  This group consisted of Ben Folds (great songwriter to begin with),  Amanda Palmer (also a great all around performer), Damian Kulash (from OkGo), and Neil Gaiman (yes, the author).  It was all part of the “Rethink Music” conference that happened in Boston and was streamed live for all to be a part of.  People were encouraged to send in title ideas for songs and the magic was created.

Are all the songs completely deep and meaningful?  Nope  Creative and highly entertaining?  Most definitely.  The fact that all these songs were created, written, and recorded from scratch in an 8 hour time period is a miracle in itself.  Add to that the humor of this troop of writers and you’ve got brilliance in my opinion. 

My favorite songs are Because The Origami, The Problem with Saints (hilarious), and I’ll Be My Mirror (which actually has a pretty deep message).  Just clickety-click on the link below to hear the creations of 8 in 8.  Enjoy!